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Yelp Support Center

To what extent can regulated businesses use consumer review sites like Yelp?

Some businesses are regulated more heavily than others, such as doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors. We frequently get questions from business owners in these industries about:

Eligibility for Review

Yelp business pages help consumers find and share information about great local businesses. Regulations that limit what doctors, lawyers and other regulated industries can say or do on consumer review sites do not limit what consumers can say and do on those sites. As a result, Yelp lists regulated and unregulated businesses alike so that consumers can find and share information about them.

Interacting with Consumers on Yelp

Some regulated businesses may be concerned about whether they can interact with consumers on Yelp. In most cases, they can interact with consumers on Yelp in the same way that any other business can.  

For example, health care professionals are not prohibited by HIPAA from posting public responses to consumer reviews provided that they don’t betray private health information about the reviewer (e.g., “Thanks for the feedback. We try to keep wait times to a minimum, but emergencies sometimes cause longer delays than we’d like. We don’t take our patients’ time for granted, and will continue to over-communicate with our patients when emergencies come up.”).

Similarly, healthcare professionals may be permitted to use Yelp’s direct messaging platform and other non-HIPAA compliant messaging platforms to communicate with patients and prospective patients pursuant to guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  We encourage you to review the guidance for more details.

In short, we believe that most regulated businesses can interact with consumers on Yelp in the same way that any other business can.

Advertising on Yelp

Some regulated businesses may be concerned about whether they can advertise on Yelp. Depending on the industry, most regulations allow business to advertise on sites like Yelp provided they don’t exert editorial control over consumer reviews. In Yelp’s case, advertisers are not afforded editorial control over reviews, and Yelp itself does not treat reviews any differently for advertisers as compared to non-advertisers.  

You can find plenty of doctors, lawyers, financial advisors and other regulated businesses who advertise on Yelp. Feel free to contact a Yelp sales representative to find out if we sell advertising in your category of interest.

Industry Information and Advice

If you have additional questions, we suggest contacting your local industry group or regulator, which should be able to suggest common practices or specific guidance. For example, financial advisors can find the SEC’s related guidance.